Built to last: 6th AMXS aces one of the most difficult tasks an aircraft mechanic may ever face

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lauren Cobin
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Swapping engines is one of the most substantial and difficult tasks an aircraft mechanic may ever face.

After 72-hours of meticulous work, Airmen with the 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron have installed a new engine on a KC-135 Stratotanker.

Aircraft statistics are documented for review after each flight. After surpassing 17,000 hours of operation, the 6th AMXS determined that the 1990s engine had been running hotter and needed to be rebuilt to ensure safety and maintain readiness.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Vasquez, 6th AMXS propulsion noncommissioned officer in charge, a supervisor overseeing the job, shared, “There’s a lot of moving parts in a job like this, with a lot of potential for things to go wrong.”

Removing and replacing an engine may only happen twice a year at MacDill Air Force Base. Maintenance troops undertaking this challenging project must have a keen sense of attention to detail to ensure the job is done right.

With 14 years of aircraft maintenance experience, Vasquez has changed many engines in multiple airframes. He emphasized that rather than being preoccupied with the big picture, it’s actually the small things he pays the most attention to.

Something as small as a missing screw or misplaced component could affect the longevity of the aircraft in the coming years. Four engines mounted under the wings of a KC-135 allow Airmen at MacDill to accomplish the Air Force’s primary mission of global reach day-in and day-out.

“We can’t fly without the engine,” said Amn. Brian Klatskin, a 6th AMXS aircraft propulsion apprentice. “The work we’re doing here is important to keep our Force ready.”

The 6th AMXS is dedicated to ensuring that MacDill’s aircraft are fit to fly, anytime and anywhere.